Thursday, January 31, 2008


A few weeks ago I was at Blockbuster (I'm one of the three people who still go there) in that fluorescent-lit daze where you're staring blankly at the titles and nothing looks good. My Vancouver soul sister, Lori, had recommended this little indie '06 film called "Once" so I half-heartedly grabbed it as a back-up (the cover looked just a little cheesy with the warm backlit know). It sat next to my TV for a week, but as I packed for LA I threw it in my carry-on to watch, if I had time, on the 5 hour flight.

So on the flight, after burning out on flipping through my 800 magazines, I watched it. OMG I laughed, cried, LOVED it. I got one of those headaches you get when you're trying hard not to cry since everyone else around me was sleeping, reading or putting spreadable fake cheese on crackers with those impossibly small plastic knives.... but it's not medical-condition sad, it's bittersweet life happy/sad with gorgeous music that drove it home. I guess you'd say it is a musical documentary? I couldn't get enough, I kept replaying parts and my laptop was starting to burn my legs, begging me to turn it off (those airline trays are small too). I love Swedish-influenced pop :) as much as the next girl, but sometimes those raw acoustics and sweet melodies hit the spot.

So, check it out. You can download the Oscar-nominated song "Falling Slowly" for free by clicking HERE. Then go buy the whole album, it's awesome. Just wanted to share.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Home Again

On the long flight back I tried to figure out what I liked best about our girls' trip to L.A., and I think it boils down to this. That the things we expected to be the highlights of our trip were not. The parts we didn’t give that much thought to turned out to be the gems.

Any celeb sightings? Sure. Have fun at Ellen’s show? Absolutely. Was the Jimmy Kimmel experience cool? Yep.

But the best part of our trip to L.A. was the people we met along the way and the simple pleasures from having slowed our frenetic lives down to a sleepy, lumbering pace… with lots of great food. Rolling out of bed, hitting the coffee shop next door, extending a one hour hike to two sans repercussions. Reading the New York Times front to back. Leisurely lunches and resting on the cushy pool lounges… under the heat lamps when the rain took a break. Drinks before dinner in the gorgeous lobby of our hotel, The Roosevelt. Sushi at Katsuya that was so good, the tuna melted in our mouths. Laughing, a lot.

Honestly, our most ambitious goal each day was to get to our dinner reservations on time.

And so many great people … the umbrella-wielding writer who stopped picketing long enough to escort us across the street so we wouldn’t get soaked; George Clooney’s cousin and his cute wife who sat with us at the Ellen show; the young soon-to-be-famous singer, so refreshingly wide-eyed at his own good fortune and odds defying status, yet more impressed with us that we had raised money for breast cancer research (watch for him…; our super-friendly hotel staff from bellman to concierge.

Then there were the renowned Swedish record producers who were so sweet and granted us honorary employee status so we could access the uber-exclusive club Teddy’s (much to the dismay of the grumpy bouncer). And it was surreal chatting up Damien Rice who really needs to end his hiatus and put out some more incredible music. I tried to keep my gushing to a minimum, but I absolutely love his music. "The Blower's Daughter" gives me goose bumps.

The last day was more challenging. A trip to the Hollywood police precinct to file a missing driver's license report required pre-flight (no celeb sightings there, surprisingly), a prolonged visit to the shipping store to figure out how to get our new 32" flat screen hdtvs home (our generous giveaways from the ellen show… even if they did cost 300.00 to ship home), packing up, heading out.

The final highlight of my trip was waking my three smiling sleepyheads this morning and receiving their warm, earnest embraces. They give the best, tightest hugs that let you know exactly how much you are missed.

And no, we didn’t see Marc Anthony, that was a shot I took from when we saw him being interviewed in NYC this summer. It just seemed lame for a photographer to post a blog with no photos. But at least I took it.

Back to work....

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

We're going to Ellen Degeneres' 50th Birthday Show!!

I love when you can trace a chain of events from something silly or maybe even regrettable, to something really great. Is it karma? Luck? Coincidence? Funny, it doesn’t even matter. It is what it is and sometimes it’s something good, sometimes it’s bad and sometimes it’s just really freakin’ cool!

So maybe, your kid throws up in carpool and it begets…. a trip to the Ellen Degeneres show with VIP passes for her 50th birthday celebration? AND VIP tickets to Jimmy Kimmel with Green Room access? Now that is crazy.

Sure, there are about 10 months of acts of kindness, sweat and tears from the beginning to the end of that story (and the story hasn’t ended yet…stay tuned!) and a LOT had to happen along the way for it all to fall into place, but when it all boils down, if my sweet child hadn’t gotten sick on his way to school I wouldn’t be sitting here, thousands of miles high above...Oklahoma?... writing this, two friends beside me, on our way to a four day fun-fest in Los Angeles. If you want to learn about the ‘in-between’ chain of events, scroll down to “The Pink Carpet Premiere” entry.

The Ellen taping will be on Thursday and the show will air Friday, Jimmy is on Friday. We have no idea what to expect but we are excited nonetheless. We hear that there are lots of surprise guests which is fun.

In the meantime, we will check into our swank hotel and enjoy some great sushi at ‘The Geisha House' tonight (our awesome concierge hooked us up with some great dining spots). And no, I didn't bring my paparazzi lens... but I did bring the camera :)

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Several years ago I fell hard for the game of squash. My husband, David, had been playing for a long time so I knew it involved a lot of sweating, a racquet, and the space-age looking glass courts near the fitness center, but I hadn't bothered to check it out. Then a pro-tournament came to town, I was dragged to watch, and was intrigued. Somehow the players made it look easy yet they came off the courts looking like they had gotten an incredible workout.

Having had three babies within as many years and the Richmond marathon newly under my belt in an effort to shed the pounds, I was ready for a new exercise challenge. Something to shake up the running regimen (which I was SO over), make my heart rate soar, and efficiently ( more three hour runs) give me that killer workout. After one lesson I knew I had found it! It was sprints. Lunges. Arms. I. Could. Not. Breathe. It was awesome. To top it off, Forbes magazine had just ranked it THE number one cardio exercise. 700 calories an hour? Bring it on!

Fast forward a few years later to The Virginia Pro-Tournament having grown to one of the top ten tournaments in THE WORLD, and top two in the US. Here. In Richmond! I suggested to Tyler (Art Director/Virginia Living) that maybe there was a place in the magazine for squash as something other than a food article, and that he take a lesson with Gus Cook, CCV squash pro. He was sold (and worn out). The stylists, make-up artists, writer, Editor, lighting tech and thankfully the Publisher, jumped on board.

Within a month of getting the green light we somehow lured 5 amazing world-class players to Virginia for the two-day shoot at the Wood 'n Racket Farm. Using them as models became the best way to briefly tell about squash and make it work visually in a lifestyle magazine. We purposefully shot on a squash court which allowed them to whack the balls and give us realistic swings to show the dynamic nature of the sport. I shot from a safe distance but knew they had incredible ball control and for the most part wouldn't hurt me....

Natalie, Shelley, Anthony, Mark and Patrick were outstanding as athletes and models, and just plain fun to be around. They endured planes, trains and automobiles to get here for which we are grateful. A true testament to their love of squash and interest in raising awareness.

Bottom line, it was a fantastic experience and I hope it inspires lots of people check out the sport. Better yet, come to the Pro-tournament at the University of Richmond in Feb/March!

The Gift

Back in my grueling-but-fun advertising agency days the tide of work would ebb and flow drastically. Sometimes we'd work 80 hour weeks, travel extensively, chase deadlines and produce mountains of work. Other times we had what we labeled 'the gift'. These were spells of time that would last a week, maybe two or three, where work was ongoing but seemed like breaks or 'gifts' of time made so much sweeter having just come through the grind. We would take long lunches, re-acquaint with our spouses, do stuff around our homes and still produce at work, but we could just kind of... coast.

January, for many, is a gift. Only three days in and I am a happy camper. In November and December, we shot tens of thousands of images. I photographed several beautiful wintry weddings (one was in Jamaica...oooh), three editorial assignments for Virginia Living and countless portrait sessions. Holiday orders and appointments for bookings next year filled the spare moments. The desktop digital Mount Everest was largely conquered by my awesome assistant Jamie while I was out shooting and adding to the pile. I loved it, thrived on it, and now, the gift! Yahoooo!

SO this month will be about catching up. Work continues, but in addition I will enjoy family, home, exercise, and a fun trip to L.A. with the girls. More on that later.

Following are a few pieces in the latest and greatest Jan/Feb 2008 Virginia Living magazine. Cary and Pierce's wedding was fun and gorgeous, and it was such a treat to work with them. The food was delicious, and I am now a fruitcake convert. That creation was divine!!! But I confess, I was a wee bit surprised to find the chili was deer (ok, venison) meat when I read the actual article loooong after eating it for dinner that night.... which explained the slightly different texture.